A Trip to Tada Falls
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Cross-posted from my Blog.
Tada falls is a good adventure spot which is located in Nellore District in Andhra Pradesh. Commercialization of this place hasn't begun as on date. So, it is still a nice spot for trekking without the usual buzz of people and shops surrounding you. Locally the falls is called "Ubbalamadugu falls". Remember this name as it can come in handy if you are lost. Actually, just saying "falls' might do, but why take chances.
On the 26th of May 2007, ten of us set out on this journey to reach Tada falls. Girish, KR, Mani, Ramkey, Anand, Vikram, Raam, Ram, Priya and yours truly set out on this adventure on a hot Saturday morning. 4 of us were reaching Chennai on that Saturday morning and as our luck would have it the trains were nearly an hour late and this spilled over to the travel schedule. Nevertheless, we set out on the journey to Tada around 8:30am after having a nice breakfast at the Saravana Bhavan Hotel at Ashok Nagar.
The best time to visit Tada would be after the rainy season, which I feel would be sometime between December and February. (Remember it is the North East monsoon which brings rains to these parts of India.) Even a visit during the rainy season would be fun, but you would have to be extra careful during the trek as it will be slightly difficult to climb the rocks.
Once you have reached Basecamp 1 (the place where the cars are parked), the trek begins. (Believe me, it is called Base Camp). The total trek distance would be about 10kms to and fro with nearly 4kms in real rocky conditions. From here the mud road begins and if you are on SUV or two wheelers, you can go for another 1km. We stopped at Basecamp 1 and took out the stuff that we required to carry and set about on the trek at nearly 11am.
The Road Ahead..Since we had already had our breakfast, we didn't have to stop anywhere in the middle for food and this was a blessing in disguise as there were no breaks from the trekking. Any break would slow down the speed and to get back to normal speed would take some more time. Also, thankfully everyone was upto the task on that day.
Just after 20-25 minutes we reached another place where some vehicles were parked. This is Basecamp 2 :) and from here on the only way to move forward is on foot. Walk, Walk, Walk.
Just after 150mts or so, we reached the first place where we had to cross a water body. It was just a small stream, but still the crossing it without getting your shoes wet was a challenge.
Crossing the first stream.....
A small word of caution: Don't get excited on seeing the water and get into it with your shoes on. It will become really tough to trek with wet soles. Also, carry at least 1 litre of water with you.
Once you cross this small stream the walk continues till you reach a mud-path. Just follow this mud-path and you will first go up the hill and then down the hill. It is quite tricky to follow the path as in some places only rocks are seen and there is absolutely nothing to indicate a path.
Going up the hill..... Waiting for directions....
Keep walking along the mud-path and you will cross another stream. We sat for about 10mins here as it was really hot. Continue walking on the mud-path and around 30mins later you will reach a Siva Temple. This is the last place where you can sit comfortably and have food, if you haven't had any so far. You can call this BaseCamp 3, if you want to. If you don't reach the Siva temple within an hour and half of starting the trek, then you have lost your way. Use the time tested method of following the stream and proceed.
The Rocks become bigger...
After this point there is no proper path and you have to rely on the direction shown by a few people who are around the Siva Temple. You have to cross the stream and then look for a path. You will find a small clearing and this might help you on the way forward. From here on, the trek starts to become difficult. You encounter rocks and millipedes on those rocks on the way forward. (Remember to listen for the stream from this point on. This would be very helpful.)
Some of the rocks are pretty big and it would help if someone who is a good trekker is around. You have to climb nearly 10ft at times and some of the formations are also difficult. This is where having a good group helps and you begin helping people who struggle slightly during these climbs. But, believe me it is worth the experience.We reached Tada falls around 1:30pm and it was a good trek for around 2hours. There should have been two falls, but we found only one as it was peak summer and the rains hadn't started. We should have seen something like the picture on the left, but we oly managed to see the smaller falls on the left side of the picture.
Picture on the left belongs to Sriram Kalyanaraman)
You can still climb up from this point, but there isn't much to see there. Raam and I climbed that part also, but all we saw was a stream of water. I don't know swimming and didn't bother to explore further, but if someone knows swimming then they can go slightly further upstream and see what is on the other side of these rocks. The climb to these rocks is around 60-70ft, but what is seen hardly justifies the effort required to get there.
What is seen at the top of the falls...
We wanted to have our lunch here, but the food which we had packed in the morning had gone stale by that time. Hence we were left with just chocolates (energy bars :) ) and some biscuits to take care of our appetite. So, the advise would be just to carry some bread and jam or dry chapathis.
We were at the falls for nearly 2 hours. Had a nice bath and we were inside the water for nearly 1:30hrs. We started out journey back around 3pm. The chances that you can get lost are higher during the journey back as I and Ram found out. But, we just walked along the stream for some distance before joining the other guys. Keep around 2:30hrs for the journey back. It will be tiring, so give yourself ample time and also take rest wherever needed. Drinking water becomes a luxury and we filled the bottles in the streams. The water tasted much better than the water available in Chennai. Thankfully on our way back the weathergods were smiling on us and there was a good cloud cover which kept the heat away.
On the way back..... (Vikram the photographer a.k.a clickie is missing)
We reached the Basecamp 1 around 4:30pm and started the journey back to Chennai. It was a pretty good trek and since we were a pretty large group we didn't find the trek too tiring. This trek isn't for someone who doesn't enjoy walking on the rocks. (at least the portion after the Siva Temple).
Travel: Since our efforts to get a Tempo Traveller proved to be futile, we had arranged for 3 cars to take us to Tada. And if we had thought that the adventures were to begin only after reaching Tada, we were mistaken as the vehicles started their adventures much earlier. A small accident, getting caught by traffic cops for signal violation etc were part of the mini-adventures before we reached Tada. I would recommend taking a Tempo Traveller if the group size is more than 8. If it is anything lesser than that they preferably stick to bikes. Don't take your own car as you will surely end up spending much more on repairs than you spent on the trek.
To reach Tada, Cross the Padi junction in Chennai and take the redhills route and join NH-5. Drive for about 60Kms and you will reach Tada town. Before you reach Tada you will cross the AP checkpost. If you are taking taxis, then you will have to shell out permit tax here (Rs.250 for Indica and Ambassador) and it is pretty high for a Tata Sumo or Tempo Traveller. It might be cost effective to take 2 Indica's compared to a Tata Sumo.
Once you reach Tada, take the left which is right next to the bridge and you will reach Varadiah Palem. Ask the people for directions from here. You have to take a left turn to reach Tada falls and there are absolutely no indications at this point. You can reach this place from Kalahasti also. I don't know of the exact directions from Kalahasti.